Antonio Stradivari is known by many as one of the greatest luthiers of all time. The question at hand is, “why?” From as early as the beginning of the 1700’s, Stradivari was well known in the music world. His instruments have been reproduced in order to fool consumers into buying something that looks like a Strad. There are also luthiers that try to replicate Stradivari’s design for their own satisfaction. Antonio Stradivari’s instruments have become socially and technically popular over time due to his superior craftsmanship, and for others, their large price tag.
Antonio Stradivari was born in Bergamo Italy, 1644. In his youth he lived in Cremona Italy, where he became the apprentice of Nicolo Amati. He had married twice, the first in 1667 with a woman named Francesca, whom he had six children with. His first son only lived for six days, while the rest later became priests or apprentices of Stradivari. Francesca then died in 1698. Soon after, Stradivari remarried in 1699 to a woman named Antonia. Antonia and Stradivari had four children, two of which had died. Stradivari bought a home in Piazza Roma; this is where Stradivari carried out his work as a luthier with his sons at his side as apprentices. In 1737, Stradivari died and was buried in the church of San Domenico in Cremona where his family had originated.
A luthier is defined as a creator and maker of stringed instruments. Stradivari’s main focus was perfecting violins, but he would occasionally branch out to violas and cellos which are much rarer to find today. Through his life as a luthier he slowly began perfecting his craft. It all started with a person named Nicolo Amati. Amati lived in Cremona just as Stradivari did. When Stradivari was a young boy around the age of 13, he began as an apprentice to Amati. He created his first instrument in 1666 with only small resemblances to Amati’s violins.
His scrolls exhibit lines of the Amati, but he added a sort of robustness to the feminine gracefulness. How fine for instance is the semi-circular termination at the lower peg box? He was the inceptor of the slanting soundholes which influence the formation and free emission of sonorous tone. The Amati soundholes are ‘set straight’ and to a certain extent cause a loss of tone… (Henley ch.1, 15)
Even as an apprentice Stradivari had begun to change the standard of the Amati violin, whose bar was already set very high.
Stradivari’s life as a luthier can be split into four different periods: The Amati, Experimental, Golden, and Decline. The Amati period, 1666-1699, was a period of time when he was under the apprenticeship of Nicolo Amati. Although the period is called the Amati period, his instruments then did not resemble much of Nicolo’s work. Even though Stradivari was just in the beginning of his life as a luthier, he was still able to greatly change the sound and appearance of Amati’s violins by changing their width and the materials used to create them. The...